Napoleon was a brilliant politician and a military genius. He convinced the French people to accept him not only as consul for life, but as an emperor, whose title would be inherited by members of his family. In this activity students will read excerpts of Napoleon's own account of the reasons for his crowning as emperor, and the benefits he believed the crowning would have for the French people.
Students will go to the Hanover Historical Texts Project Web site to read Napoleon's own account of his crowning as emperor and answer a series of questions. Each student will then write reactions to the announcement of the crowning of Napoleon from the perspective of one of three imaginary French people of the time.
- Students will be able to interpret and summarize facts from a primary source document.
- Students will be able to apply what they have learned by writing a letter about the crowing of Napoleon from the perspective of an imaginary person of the time in France.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Napoleon believes that only a hereditary government can assure a continuous political life without anarchy and discord.
- Napoleon said that he wanted to restore a form of government which included religion and the officiating by the head of the Church during the crowning ceremonies.
- He shows his concern for his own legacy when he states that he "realized that his death might ruin his whole work."
- Napoleon speaks at length of his achievements in codifying French law, improving the stature of French education, strengthening business and commerce, and restoring the place of religion in French society.
- Students' letters will vary but should convey how each imaginary person would have been likely to respond to the news of the crowning of Napoleon based on his or her social conditions. The priest, for example, might celebrate the event, considering Napoleon's restoration of some of the Church's former influence in France.
Go To Student Web Activity